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Why Haaretz Editor-in-chief Is Wrong to Tell Palestinians to Surrender to Trump's Plan

Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar
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Protesters try to remove barbed wires that block a road leading to the U.S. embassy during a protest against the Trump peace plan in Aukar, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020.
Protesters try to remove barbed wires that block a road leading to the U.S. embassy during a protest against the Trump peace plan in Aukar, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020.Credit: Hassan Ammar,AP
Akiva Eldar
Akiva Eldar

U.S. President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century,” wrote Aluf Benn in Haaretz, “offers the Palestinians a deal similar to that received by Germany and Japan at the end of World War II: They gave up Nazism and imperialism, respectively, along with their status and ambitions as military and maritime superpowers, placed their security in the hands of the United States – and have enjoyed decades of abundance and economic stability ever since.”

Now the time has come for the Palestinians to surrender unconditionally, to reject “the narrative of the past” and to look forward, toward the diplomatic recognition and economic prosperity that await them. “It worked for Germany and Japan,” writes Benn. Why shouldn’t it work for the Palestinians?

There are three answers to this question: First, the Palestinians, just like the Israelis, are not being asked to give up the narrative of the past, or their dreams. In order to end to the conflict, both nations have to give up the implementation of the narrative of the past and complete fulfillment of their dream. No diplomatic agreement has the power to erase the longings of a Palestinian refugee for his orchard in Jaffa, the dream that a day will come when he will be able to pick its fruit. The Gush Katif evacuees continue to mourn what they saw as eviction from their homes, and they dream of returning to them.

In revoking the Palestinian National Covenant and in the 1988 Algiers Declaration, the Palestinians waived implementation of the narrative of the Nakba. The same is true of their acceptance of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which is based on the May 1967 borders.

True, not all the Palestinians are willing to accept the right of a Jewish state to exist in peace and security alongside a Palestinian state. But even now, when they are being humiliated before the entire world, the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), has not cancelled the Oslo Accords and continues to adhere to the two-state solution.

While Israeli governments have held contacts to promote the two-state solution, they have, at the same time, sowed minefields in its path in the guise of dozens of settlements and outposts, using arguments based on “the narrative of the past.”

Second, as opposed to Germany and Japan, which were forced to surrender their status as military and maritime powers, the Palestinians’ surrender agreement requires not only doing without an army and control of their borders and airspace, but also giving up their independence.

A man reads about the Trump peace plan on the daily Asharq Al-Awsat at a coffee shop in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, January 29, 2020.Credit: Amr Nabil,AP

As Benn noted, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to sell Trump the (false) narrative, which maintains that the Palestinian national movement is a crime organization that convinced Adolf Hitler to murder the Jews of Europe so that they wouldn’t settle in the Land of Israel. The man who is suspected of criminal offenses has recruited a megalomaniacal president to support his life’s project – the destruction of the Palestinian national movement, in order to keep it out of the Land of Israel.

Benn believes the reason for the time-out that Trump gave the Palestinians for the purpose of digesting and adopting the plan was apparently to wait until the end of Abu Mazen’s tenure and the rise of a successor, one less committed to the narrative of injustice, victimization and the right of return. “Jibril Rajoub, are you listening?” asks Benn, referring to one of the claimants to the throne.

I know Abu Rami (as Rajoub is known). I haven’t noticed that he has any suicidal tendencies, either physical or political. I know a Palestinian politician who loves life, who is treating the document that Netanyahu dictated to Trump as a basis for talks.

You need a very rich imagination to identify an “independent state” in the Rorschach blot that Trump presented at the bizarre ceremony in the White House. Anyone who believes that there is a Muslim leader who will sign a document that grants the Jews sovereignty in the Holy Basin in Jerusalem has not been here in recent centuries.

Nations don’t give up their identity and their right to self-determination. They fight for them until blood flows, and in the end they win. A phenomenon like Trump reminds us almost daily that the announcement of the “death of history” was premature. It’s possible that in a few months from now “the deal of the century” will join his portfolio of tall tales, along with the “nuclear agreement” with North Korea and the denial of global warming – the portfolio is full of tall tales.

One day the occupation will end. That will happen in 10 years from now, or 50, or 100, and after who knows how many more dead, how many more widows and orphans. The choice was and still is between dividing the country into two states and bringing about reconciliation between the two peoples − or having a conflicted binational state in which two nations shed each other’s blood.

The third answer to the question of why the Palestinians are not following in the footsteps of Germany and Japan and waving a white flag is that since World War II colonialism has been replaced by a discussion of human rights – from the disintegration of the British Empire to the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa, from the Algerian War to the end of the French occupation, from recognition of the right of the Jewish people to a country to the end of racial discrimination in the United States.

Palestinian surrender is a resurrection of colonialism. Surrendering the right of the Palestinian people to a sustainable, non-Bantustan state would be a victory of Jewish messianic fascism and a gift to Arab messianic ultranationalism.

And if we return to the surrender by Germany and Japan – we should recall that the signal for World War II was an agreement in which British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave his blessing to the annexation of the Sudetenland to Germany. Then too the representatives of the victim – the government of Czechoslovakia – were not invited to the party.

The writer is a diplomatic commentator at the Al-Monitor website.

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